With the recent adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson managed the near-impossible: She took Anastasia Steele, the pilloried heroine of E L James’s erotic novel, and managed to make her beguiling, human, and even funny. After elevating that purple prose, Johnson has segued to a production with dialogue that’s even more challenging to deliver, though it’s of a very different caliber: Her new film Cymbeline is adapted from the play by William Shakespeare.
A reunion of director Michael Almereyda and star Ethan Hawke, who previously teamed for a clever 2000 update of Hamlet, this modern Cymbeline casts Hawke as the devious Iachimo, who bets star-crossed skateboarder Posthumus (Penn Badgley) that he can seduce the latter’s love, Imogen (played by Johnson). The setting is modern-day, as you’ll see in this Vulture-exclusive clip — note, for example, the iPad that Iachimo proffers in his ruse to faithful Imogen — but the dialogue comes 100 percent from the Bard, even though his original text has been judiciously nipped and tucked by Almereyda. Watch how naturally Johnson tackles those tricky lines, and look for Cymbeline this Friday, March 13, when it opens in theaters and on-demand.